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Published: 12/4/2010

Union lauds firm buying area Sunoco refinery

The union representing more than 400 workers at Sunoco Inc.'s Toledo Refinery had nothing but praise for the private startup company that has agreed to buy the 116-year-old facility in the surprise $400 million blockbuster deal announced Thursday.

“If Toledo had to be sold, I think this is a good mix for them,” said Gary Beevers, international vice president for the United Steel Workers, which represents hourly employees at Sunoco's refinery.

He said the principal officers behind PBF Holding Co., of Parsippany, N.J., who agreed to the purchase, “have been in the oil business a long time,” and know what they're doing.

PBF announced Thursday that it had agreed to acquire the 170,000 barrel-per-day refinery from Sunoco for $200 million in cash and a $200 million loan from Sunoco. Along with paying for the inventory at closing, PBF agreed to pay up to $125 million more, depending on the refinery's future profitability.

Officials from PBF were in Toledo Friday to meet with employees and inspect the facility. The two-year-old private equity firm has a mission “to invest in heavy industry assets in the United States,” according to PBF President Michael Gayda. It already had bought two refineries this year on the East Coast. PBF's principal owners are private-equity giants the Blackstone Group and First Reserve Corp.

PBF Chairman Thomas O'Malley said buying what had been Sunoco's first refinery “provides PBF with growth in a different geographic area. This refinery is well configured to serve its marketplace.” The company was familiar with the Toledo facility because members of its management team had previously managed Premcor's refinery in Lima.

Thomas Nimbley, PBF's chief executive officer, said the Toledo facility “is a sophisticated refinery that is capable of producing a very high percentage of gasoline, jet, and diesel fuels that are needed to serve the consumer base in the region.”

Jen Sorgenfrei, a spokesman for Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, said PBF called the mayor's office to introduce the company and inform the city of the sale agreement. She said the mayor viewed “as a good sign” PBF's agreement to retain the refinery's current work force.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at

lvellequette@theblade.com or

419-724-6091



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